Mississippi becomes the fourth state with active legal sports betting, and the third to launch following the Supreme Court‘s repeal of PASPA in May. Delaware and New Jersey both fired up their initial operations in June.
MGM opened its sportsbooks at Beau Rivage in Biloxi and Gold Strike in Tunica with fanfare. Former NFL stars Willis McGahee and Stanley Morgan led a crowd of dignitaries marking the start of Mississippi sports betting.
Mississippi gains a regional edge
A quick look at the United States map makes clear why Mississippi wanted to get its sports betting operations started quickly. Nowhere else in the South is there a state close to passing sports betting legislation this year.
Legislators in the Magnolia State prepared last year for the Supreme Court decision by legalizing sports betting through another law. In the same bill that authorized daily fantasy sports in the state, they stripped language prohibiting sports betting from state law.
By clearing the way for legal sports betting in 2017, Mississippi now stands alone in the football-crazed region just weeks before the season kicks off. In the heart of SEC country, that represents a major advantage for the prospects of Mississippi sports betting.
“This is a banner day for Beau Rivage and all of Mississippi and we are proud to lead the way on the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” said Bill Boasberg, president and chief operating officer of Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, in a press release. “Here in the heart of the South, home to some of the most ardent sports fans in the world, we open a whole new era of sports entertainment and we do it on the eve of football season.”
One thing missing from Mississippi sports betting
The future of US legal sports betting will be mobile and online as bettors take to their smartphones for constantly updated offerings. In Mississippi, though, that kind of dynamic wagering will have to wait for later.
To place a sports wager in Mississippi, bettors will have to go to the physical property of a land- or water-based casino. They either can get their action in-person at the sportsbook or via mobile betting while on property, if the casino offers it.
That means mobile wagering in Mississippi sports betting will be limited to players located within the confines of a casino. The state regulations governing this spell out the rules clearly; for instance, bettors cannot access mobile apps while in a casino parking garage.
Legislative solutions still to come
Mississippi legislators already might revisit sports betting this year as part of a special session. Governor Phil Bryant might call the legislature into session to address a number of issues, including how sports betting revenue is directed.
While mobile betting will not be dealt with this year, it’s an issue to watch in Mississippi moving forward.